The Fadnavis government might be speaking highly of its flagship scheme Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan but questions are being raised about the success of the scheme as Marathwada is reeling under severe drought. The BJP government had launched the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan to make Maharashtra drought free by 2019. The main objective of the scheme was to make 5,000 villages free of water scarcity. The scheme was launched in December 2014 by the state government with an objective to harvest rainwater and enhance groundwater level. However, the project has failed to yield the desired results due to haphazard and unscientific implementation.
Manoj Shemde Patil, a farmer from Beed said, “BJP, NCP, and Congress are indulging in politics over farmers’ problems. They came to power but have not addressed the drought issue. They have indulged in frauds. If farmers from Marathwada protests against this issue, then false case is filed against them.”
“Due to shortage of water, farmers and animals fall ill. If animals fall ill, then how will farmers be able to cultivate? Political parties give false assurances of implementing loan waiver scheme; they have failed to address drought issue,” he further added.
Before election, politicians try to rake up the water scarcity issue to attract the voters but no breakthrough has been achieved. Residents of Beed, Latur are unhappy with the government for its failure to address the water shortage issue. Even though several villages in Marathwada come under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Swaraj Abhiyan but residents have to grapple with severe water shortage issue. Marathwada has been facing water shortage after two months of the withdrawal of monsoon season.
Former BSP leader Digambar Rathod said, “The government has completely failed to address the drought situation in the state. They are least bothered about farmers’ problems and only want power. Democracy is dead as 21 parties have approached the Election Commission to hold paper ballot. Be it Congress, Shiv Sena, NCP or BJP, nobody is thinking about the welfare of farmers.”
In 2017-18, the government had claimed that out of 5,031 villages selected for the scheme 100 per cent work was completed in 396 villages, 80 per cent in 1,247 villages while work was on in the remaining 3,418 villages. However, the reality is far different as Marathwada is facing severe drought. Opposition parties like Congress and NCP had targeted the BJP government for its failure to address drought crisis in the state. Last year Congress had also organised Jan Sangharsh Yatra in support of farmers affected due to drought.
Independent MLA Mohan Fad said, “The government should have resolved this problem till now. The inter-linking of rivers has not happened due to scanty rainfall. The situation is only going to get worse in future. The government has created a water grid project and under it, the inter-linking of rivers will be speeded up. Marathwada’s problems can be resolved only if Jayakwadi Dam is filled.”
Congress has sought an inquiry into the spending of Rs 7,500 crore in the past four years on this scheme. In 2018, the state received 74.3 per cent of rainfall. But till November 17, 2018, 715 tankers in total were supplying water to various regions. In 2014, the state received 70.2 per cent of rain fall which is lesser than 2014 but only 71 tankers were supplying water at the time. Thus, the so called claim of the government about the success of the scheme seems fake and fabricated.
BJP MLA Suresh Dhas said, “Nitin Gadkari is doing his best for irrigation of Marathwada and soon drought issue will be addressed. During NCP-Congress reign, no water was released but now 23.66 cusec water has been released from Krishna River. I have solved the water scarcity issue in my constituency by spending Rs 150 crores and government will take a decision pertaining to addressing drought issue in Marathwada.”
People of Marathwada have to walk several distances to fetch water. More than half of Maharashtra is facing water crisis. Seven seats of drought hit Marathwada are going for polls on April 18. Water shortage is the biggest poll issue in this region. Due to water crisis many people from Marathwada have relocated to metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Many of them are earning their livelihood in these cities and are unwilling to return to their native place.
People fight for every drop of water in Beed and Latur districts of Maharashtra. Whenever, a tanker comes to the village people try to fill buckets and pots of water. Water level has reached its lowest level in Marathwada that even though wells are dug but the area faces water shortage crisis. Villagers say that initially they could find water after digging 25 to 30 feet. However, now they are unable to find water despite digging 70 feet. Those people who are unable to fill water have to rely on private tankers for water.
People receive filtered RO water through tankers at subsidised rates after a gap of 8 days. Villagers have several times approached the Tahslidar with their grievances pertaining to water scarcity issue. However, the problem is not resolved due to bureaucratic hurdles. Few years back, trains were used to supply water to Latur which was the worst affected district due to drought. Even today, the situation has not improved in Latur as residents are facing water scarcity problems.
Even cows and buffalos are affected due to water scarcity issue. Fodder camps have been started in Beed and Latur districts for providing fodder and water to animals. The government has failed to create enough water reservoirs. Even though dams in Marathwada were running dry and the government completely ignored the situation.